Author(s): John R Davis, Arthur F Gmitro
Epithelial ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate among the gynecologic cancers and spreads beyond the ovary in 90% of the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Detection before the disease has spread beyond the ovary would significantly improve the survival from ovarian cancer, which is currently only 30% over 5 years, despite extensive efforts to improve the survival. This study describes initial investigation of the use of optical technologies to improve the outcome for this disease by detecting cancers at an earlier and more treatable stage. Women undergoing oophorectomy were recruited for this study. Ovaries were harvested for fluorescence spectroscopy, confocal microscopy, and optical coherence tomography. Fluorescence spectroscopy showed large diagnostic differences between normal and abnormal tissue at 270 and 340 nm excitation. Optical coherence tomography was able to image up to 2mm deep into the ovary with particular patterns of backscattered intensity observed in normal versus abnormal tissue. Fluorescence confocal microscopy was able to visualize sub-cellular structures of the surface epithelium and underlying cell layers. Optical imaging and/or spectroscopy has the potential to improve the diagnostic capability in the ovary, but extended systematic investigations are needed to identify the unique signatures of disease. The combination of optical technologies supported by modern molecular biology may lead to an instrument that can accurately detect early carcinogenesis.